News Home & Design Disaster-Resistant House Prototype Boosts Local Resilience The simple-to-build 'HOUSE' is designed for flood-prone areas. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Updated March 18, 2021 02:38PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email H&P Architects News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive In a future where the devastating effects of the climate crisis will likely be widespread, it's clear that the building industry needs to start thinking about how to incorporate these realities into new construction projects, as well as retro-fitting existing ones for disaster-readiness. Besides building for climate change, we need to design for climate change too, and design schools would do well to make sustainable design classes, and basic courses about ecology and carbon literacy a mandatory part of the curriculum. But no one says that designers need to wait – in fact, many are already thinking ahead right now. For example, Vietnam's vulnerability to climate change-induced sea-level rise prompted local design firm H&P Architects to create this disaster-resistant prototype for an adaptable house – one that can easily be reconfigured to suit different regional locations and environmental conditions. H&P Architects Dubbed HOUSE (Human’s Optional USE) and recently constructed in the city of Hai Duong, the project incorporates three main features: a steel frame, various options for wall insulation, cladding and roofing, and a reconfigurable interior. It's designed with modularity in mind, so that extra floors can be easily added, or a number of HOUSEs grouped together to form multifunctional community complexes for schooling or healthcare. H&P Architects Aimed at low-income populations in regions prone to flooding, the HOUSE can be constructed on stilts to make it suitable for areas that are mountainous or susceptible to flooding. The HOUSE could even be placed on barrels so that it can float on the water – a clever idea that we've seen before. H&P Architects According to the architects, the versatility of the scheme comes from its reinforced steel frame, which consists of 6-inch by 6-inch steel tubing that's connected via multi-point joints. This makes it simple to build more floors if needed, or lifting it up on stilts or on barrels in disaster-prone areas. H&P Architects In addition, elements like walls, doors and roofing can be made with materials that are locally sourced and climatically appropriate. For instance, the architects suggest that materials like "compacted bricks, unburnt bricks, waste bricks, steel tube, corrugated iron, foil" might be used for walls. H&P Architects In this completed prototype, bamboo – a locally abundant material that's known as "green steel" due to its durability – was used to support the metal Galvalume roof. (Similar to galvanized metal, Galvalume is a coating consisting of zinc, aluminum and silicon that is used to protect a metal from oxidation.) H&P Architects Besides the structure itself, the design incorporates a rainwater harvesting system, which collects and reuses water – some of it recirculating in the home's roof sprinkler system, which then uses a long, perforated pipe to spread water over the roof to cool it down and subsequently, the interior of the home as well. Apart from the roof sprinkler system, the solar panels on the roof also help to generate electricity that would be used on a daily basis, or stored and traded. H&P Architects The open plan interiors of the HOUSE are intended to maximize flexibility: families can build them out as their needs dictate, and construction can be done in stages, starting from the bottom up. In this completed prototype, the designers installed partitioning walls that function as storage spaces, as well as netting to provide spaces for relaxation and airflow. H&P Architects The HOUSE is designed to be simple enough that residents and other local community members can participate in its construction – thus potentially creating jobs and engaging them in the development of their local communities. H&P Architects Thanks to its modular design, and its baked-in adaptability to various environmental conditions, the HOUSE is a great example of how more architects could be thinking and designing for worst-case climate scenarios. Floods will happen, and this kind of "better safe than sorry" approach will help to strengthen resilience in our communities and cities, and will also set the stage for a low-carbon future, where things like renewable energy and water conservation, recycling, and reuse are included from the get-go, rather than as an afterthought. To see more, visit H&P Architects.